Indian state’s drone surveillance program worries privacy advocates

India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, wants to make its capital city, Lucknow, safer for women. And it wants to do so by establishing a broad-ranging surveillance setup that uses tools such as drones, facial recognition-enabled CCTV cameras, and AI-based video analytics. However, in the absence of robust data privacy laws, critics fear the program will infringe upon the privacy of citizens in a state infamous for communal polarization.

Multimillion Lucknow Safe City Project

The Lucknow Safe City Project is being launched at an approximate cost of $26.2 million. When the program was announced in October 2020, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel highlighted the need for proactive crime prevention, saying:

There are people with criminal and perverted mindset, who derive pleasure by committing crime. Girls are harassed while going to schools. It is because of these people that women do not feel safe in the family. Police must identify these people, and…